December 07, 2009

IDFistan: the mini-me of the Military-Industrial-Complex

The penny drops in Haaretz. The IDF junta runs the country for all intent and purpose.

The defense establishment is, for all intents and purposes, a distinct sector.
From the defense minister to the army, its senior officers who serve in the standing army to those who leave the service, to the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad; all of these entities comprise a group which operates with full autonomy.

The defense establishment has a hierarchy, institutions, services, media outlets and its own legal system. It has nearly unlimited resources in the form of real estate (close to half of the land in the state is in the hands of the army and is managed exclusively by the army), personnel (Israeli citizens within a wide range of ages stand at its disposal without pay and are used as the army sees fit), and the largest budget in the state, a budget of which no one outside of the defense establishment really knows the details.

This is a community of the privileged, a vast majority of whom are men enjoying bloated salaries, pensions and generous employment benefits in addition to unblemished reputations as individuals who "risk their lives for the security of the state."

They also enjoy immunity from criticism and others meddling in their affairs because, after all, they protect our very existence. There is no more symbolic indication of this group's superior status than the fact that the chief of staff earns a salary nearly twice that of the prime minister.

Those who truly risk their lives are in the minority, and most of them do not belong to the highest strata of the group. The clique itself - like every clique - is preoccupied with first and foremost preserving its own security: its interests, its standing, its benefits and those of the individuals comprising it.

As the benefits improve, the interest to preserve them grows further. The power wielded by the security establishment grows whenever Israel finds itself in a situation where it faces "an existential threat" and "a security danger."

It is then that it pours money, its best people, its energies and its skills into defense. This is what happens when the interests of the defense sector diverge from the interests of the state which subsidizes it and which it purports to defend.

... without threats and wars, the defense establishment loses the rationale for its existence and the individuals comprising it lose their substantial clout, which is also worth a great deal of money. (Merav Michaeli, Haaretz)

Haaretz, especially through the growing importance of its business section "The Marker", which has grown into both a supplement, a chromo magazine, and even a women magazine, is the newspaper of the businessman. In this is continues its long tradition as a voice of Israel's bourgeoisie, especially attuned to the concerns of its middle managers and its intelligentsia. The conflict between this sector and the growing shifts in power in Israel (with the rise of nationalist right, the religious sector and the settlers) has been growing progressively since the eighties. It is also an ethnic tension, with the paper a bastion of Israeli Ashkenazi whiteness. At the same time, the conflict is muted by the ubiquity of the army and the importance of the army as both a consumer of business and career path. We need these contradictions to grow further, and the best way to do it is BDS. The Haaretz reader, with his or her global aspiration and consciousness, her stake in Israel's globally networked economy and her claim of enlightenment, is the most vulnerable to the pressure of BDS.

Keep pushin, folks!

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